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Assocreation: Pink streetwear!

Assocreation: what is it? A person, a group, a place, a happening, a pink print t-shirt? Who is Annamarie Buller and why was she out there mixing it up again in the Heartside neighborhood on Saturday September 24 2011? This time it was your feet, fun shoes, pink paint, road dirt and white t-shirts.
Underwriting support from:

I want a Pink Prints Shirt . . .

Shirts and shoes from this event are on sale now at the Grand Rapids Streetwear venue to cover cost.

Shirts are $15.00 each and shoes will be available for sale at $25.00 per pair.

ArtPrize 2011: September 21 – October 9.

Check ArtPrize website under Venues for extended hours and special venue specific events.

Wouldn't it be great if that big, bold "Grand Rapids Streetwear" sign stayed at 2 East Fulton as permenant store signage? Talk it up, tweet it up, make it happen!

Get some of this stuff . . .

Get some of this stuff . . . /Victoria Reed

Do this  . . .

Do this . . . /Victoria Reed

Proceeds from shirt & shoe sales defray project costs for Pink Prints – Grand Rapids Streetwear

Proceeds from shirt & shoe sales defray project costs for Pink Prints – Grand Rapids Streetwear /Victoria Reed

Your feet, fun shoes, pink paint, road dirt and white t-shirts are helping create an interactive ArtPrize 2011 entry for Assocreation. The finished t-shirts, Annamarie and Assocreation spokespeople are now hanging out at Grand Rapids Streetwear in the SiTE:LAB + U of M School of Art & Design venue, 2 E Fulton.

The Assocreation entry for ArtPrize 2011 is a re-interpretation of a 2005 street wear installation on Schönbrunner Strasse, Vienna. For the Grand Rapids version, Weston Street was closed off for one block east of Division Avenue. Plain white tees were donated by Citizen Shirt and artfully strewn down the hill. Carpet under-lament squares were soaked in pink paint, while volunteers donned donated shoes. Once the soles were inked up, the fun commenced. As the shoe prints began showing up, the enthusiasm heightened. The photographers had to shoot carefully not to get each other in shots. At least one photographer sported pink tennis shoes for the occasion.

Assocreation is an artist collective co-located in Vienna Austria and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Created first in Austria, their interactive installations amuse participants and observers. Assocreation spokespeople hope the installations provoke conversation and connection as well. They are at home in either formal gallery settings or playing right along with the public at informal street installations. Ironically, despite the focus on connection, Assocreation spokespeople do not identify themselves individually. They prefer to identify as the collective. If that fact does not get you thinking, perhaps some of their other installations like “Red Carpet” will.

When asked what in their first ArtPrize experience made an impression, they expressed surprise at the warm reception Grand Rapidians have given them. "We did not expect the open mindedness and communication or the willingness to show an interest in what we do.” A spokesperson went on to say, “the people have surprised us.”

Annamarie Buller was asked to serve as local coordinator for Assocreation; to facilitate pulling permits, communication with the community and to recruit volunteers. Buller enlisted the help of 25 international Grand Valley State University students, as well as Grand Rapidians at large. Some of you may be familiar with Buller's singular ability to match people and projects in Grand Rapids. Stop by Grand Rapids Streetwear at Site:LAB and say hello to Assocreation; surprise them again just for fun.



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As a happening, sure, who doesn't love hot pink dancing feet in the streets?  But as an end product (especially for purchase), the T-shirts were plain sad.  I understand their value as a record of this joyous occasion, but their appeal stops there. For me, this slew of shoddy T-shirts was a sad welcome to SiteLab's already hit-or-miss exhibition venue.

Debuts are nerve wracking for ingenues; however this might be the best use of 2 East Fulton as an ArtPrize venue in three seasons.  Comments heard on the street generally express pleasure at 2 East Fulton finally being opened up and used.

Those tee shirts and the pairs of shoes were not the end game.  It is a public, interactive, pink free-for-all Assocreation is aiming for within the community.  Thank you for participating, Tori!

Perhaps I should clarify my critique-- the happening and public interaction sounded pleasurable for all.  But the use of SiteLab as a display for the T-shirts as commodities was bothersome for a few reasons:

The display took up viewers' entire visual field when you entered SiteLab and seemed like an after-thought. An entry to any museum, gallery, etc. is prime real estate and should be curated in a visually engaging manner.

I hope they can sell all these shirts, but because the shirts were not the end product, their appeal is not visual, for me anyway. We can hope the public will support the idea of the project by buying these shirts, but I fear these will soon end up in thrift stores or landfills. Maybe the tension between this "free-for-all" and the functionality of its bi-products isn't working in this instance?

Thoughtful consideration was given to comments made thusfar; a second visit was made to Assocreations installation at the SiTE:LAB + U of M School of Art & Design venue, 2 E Fulton.  This time it was to take a closer look at the installation as a stand-alone exhibit apart from the creative event held on Saturday September 24, 2011. 

I let the elements of art inform my eye and lens.  I considered the layout of the physical space as well as arrangement of elements within the space.  Line: the cables on which t-shirts are hung, define the shape of the installation which is an isosceles triangle.  Diagonal lines connote movement.  The bulk of the hanging t-shirts as well as the height at which they hang serve to create form.  

From September 28, 2011

Space is three dimensional.  In paintings, photographs and drawings it must be contrived by illusion; Assocreations installation could be considered sculptural, needing no illusory support.  Additionally, both positive and negative space can be perceived.

In evaluating color we find hue in the red family on the shirts and soles of the shoes.  Green and blue can be found in the physical environment.  Intensity ranges from the super-saturated pink soles of the shoes which suggest vibrancy and energy coming into the space to the muted, chipped, old painted walls.  The lack of intensity in the dull environment could be interpreted as the building  asking the viewers to seriously consider where they are and what they know about the building.

This installation is a rich textural environment.  The white t-shirts become soft in the muted light.  The exposed beams are rough.  The monitor on which a clip of the creative event is displayed is smooth as are the pipe railings leading out of the installation toward the south end of the building.  There is rhythm and movement in the clothespins on the cables, the spacing of the t-shirts and the shoes.  There is actual movement from the breezes through the huge windows.

From September 28, 2011

I had a chance to chat with Tom Clinton who is responsible for the space and layout decisions in SiTE.LAB venues.  I asked him what the thought process was regarding the placement of the Assocreation installation; "Part of the consideration from the artists standpoint was visibility from the street, referencing a retail model even though it is not an actual store."  Clinton also touched upon the cohesiveness of window view into the space and the signage on the facade which reads in part; "What business do you want to see here?" as well as the tie-in in the signage reading "Grand Rapids Streetwear."

As a journalist this was a fun story to write.  As a casual observer, not under the gun to shoot, talk and write, the Assocreation installation evoked an entirely different experience.  The unfinished pitted cement floor feels solid.  Walking through the exhibit from west by the Division Avenue windows to where the ramp to the second level is located gave me the strangest, comforting feeling.  I was instantly transported back to a time when there were cloths lines in a yard.  I could smell clean laundry waving gently in the rain washed breeze.  At the east end, I paused to look back toward the west windows; the shirts and clothespins were silhouetted against the brighter light in the huge west window not unlike looking down lines of laundry toward the sun.

From September 28, 2011

When I got home hours later, I dumped the shots in the camera onto my computer, eager to see if the impression I had was real; indeed it was.  Did this exhibit provoke me; yes.  Did it leave a memorable impression; yes.  Does the installation qualify as a piece of art; yes I think it does. As for those t-shirts, I am reasonably sure they will not end up en masse in a landfill.